Category: restoration of small forests


What does Forest Voices of India actually do?

Forest Voices of India is a U.S.- based 501 C 3 organization that helps support four charities in India…

A young boy is enchanted by a blue butterfly and by the tall trees he walks among, along with his classmates on a nature outing into the forest. They do a detailed study of the eco-system. Twenty years later, as a successful businessman, he avoids making investments that might harm the wilderness. Instead, he looks for ways to invest that will build eco-friendly environments to restore nature. In the back of his mind – always – he remembers the blue-winged butterfly.

A young woman from a disadvantaged background has not been able to finish school. It’s difficult to find a job and she feels at loose ends until she takes a handicrafts workshop which teaches how to make delightful objects out of environmentally friendly, natural materials. She is also taught how to start a business selling handicrafts. Happy making lovely objects – she looks to a brighter future ahead.

Along with a group of her peers, a middle-aged woman has been taught how to start her own business. No longer feeling trapped sitting at home, she has some extra money now to help support her family, and she feels a renewed sense of purpose – along with a sense of peace.

These and many other programs run by the Ramaswami Foundation (the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation) and their sister organization – the C.P. Ramaswami Environmental Education Centre — bring about dramatic changes in people’s lives. They reach tens of thousands of people in six different states in south India – not just bringing a sense of fulfilment to individual people but transforming people’s relationship with the natural world – bringing life to both people and the earth.

Over the past thirty years or so, the Ramaswami Foundation has restored 53 sacred groves – small forests. These vary in size from just a couple of acres to two or three hundred acres. Each is closely connected traditionally with a nearby village…

To be continued…

Photos:
C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation and the C.P. Environmental Education Centre

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Under the leadership of Dr. Nanditha Krishna, the CPREEC (C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Environmental Education Centre) in Chennai, India, has restored 53 sacred groves, over the past thirty years – bringing back the original flora and fauna and restoring these small forests with the same species of plants and animals which always lived there in the past, providing once again beautiful tranquil lands which the people living nearby had treasured in the past. Each village in India once had a sacred grove. Now, the village people themselves maintain and care for these restored sacred forests and the abundant wildlife that live there.

These ancient sacred groves represent one of the amazing traditions of India, which has traditionally valued and preserved the life and the beauty of the natural world.

Dr. Nanditha Krishna is an environmentalist, art historian and well-known author of over twenty-five books about the art, culture, and the natural world of India. Among these are Hinduism and Nature, Sacred Animals of India, and Sacred Plants of India.

Listening to this short video, you will be transported to the city of Chennai where you will be among the tall, peaceful trees of the CPREEC and CPRA Foundation centers, yet not far from the busy city life of nearby streets.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Pexels.com

Thank you for being our home. Thank you for your sacred beauty.

May your lands be blessed and released from harm. May your oceans and waters be clean and safe for all the beings who live within them. May your forests grow tall, and your wild lands be green and filled with life. May your rocks, cliffs, and sacred mountains tower in majesty.

May your life and your spirit be healed that you may be strong and well – that your children – the birds, the animals, the plants, and all peoples — may live in peace and wellbeing.

May you be freed from oppression, tyranny, and the hand of death that you may be well once more, as nature intended. May the forces of the harmful shadow dwindle, vanish, and be gone – returned to non-existence. May the phantom demons of hate leave – fallen into the abyss, never to return.

May the beauty of your sacred spirit fly in the wind on the wings of birds, run with the swift feet of the four-legged ones, and swing with the gentle, waving branches of the juniper trees.

May all your life and your sacred spirit be blessed, honored, revered, restored, and whole.

May the sun, the moon, and the stars bless you with their radiant light and their presence.

May you rise again in joy, power, and magic, in this age and in the age that is to come.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Five miles south of the city Tiruvannamalai, which lies southwest of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, can be found the forest grove of Pavupattu. An oasis of peace and beautiful trees, it was the first of 53 sacred forest groves restored by CPREEC (CPR Environmental Education Centre).
Thirty years ago, the grove came to the attention of Dr. Nanditha Krishna, Director of CPREEC; she and one of CPREEC’S officers, Mr. Selvapandiyan, went to visit the grove and found it very rundown. Over the course of many months, Mr. Selvapandiyan, who was the manager of the restoration project, spent his time first interviewing local elders in the nearby village of Pavupattu, to determine which were the trees that had once grown naturally in the grove. Then he set about doing the work of restoration.

Mr. Selvapandiyan recalls that at the time, there was a severe drought in the area, which meant that there was no water available. They had to bring in water from outside in trucks, to use for planting all the trees and also as drinking water for the work crews. It was very hot work in the warm months of southern India.

All the trees that can be seen now planted on the acres of the grove, are green and wonderfully healthy. Just a few of the larger trees had existed earlier. In the thirty years since Pavupattu was restored, the people of the nearby village of the same name have faithfully taken care of the grove. It is clean and well-kept, with no trash or litter, a lovely, serene place, home to a few dozen resident monkeys – and to the huge votive statues that the people have had made to offer to the deities of the grove. There are small temple structures, and standing on platforms, or sometimes grinning from behind trees, are the remarkable folk statues, especially of huge white horses, and sometimes the figures of guardian spirits in human form – all constructed of painted terracotta, one of the unique folk arts of Tamil Nadu.

Throughout India, there are forest groves – in the hundreds of thousands, though sadly, the majority have fallen into disrepair over the centuries. Some have disappeared entirely, swallowed up into shopping malls or other developed land, or perhaps simply lying idle, as waste land, occasionally visited by a few devotees who worship the remnants of a sacred site. A few have been maintained over hundreds or thousands of years.

These are the original spiritual sites of the local people of India. They are groves of trees because the trees themselves are believed to be especially sacred, and the people see them as home to the guardian spirits and the deities who live on the sacred land among the trees. Wherever the groves have been preserved intact, it is entirely due to the devotion and tenacity of the local village people, who have protected their groves against all the onslaughts of modern development.

In the past, every Indian village had a forest grove, which was the heart of the spiritual life of the people. The trees could never be cut down, the animals and birds could not be disturbed. Sometimes it was even forbidden to gather dead fallen branches for firewood. The land was sacred and could not be used for mundane purposes. Where they still exist, the forest groves are wonderful repositories of the animals, birds, and plant life of the area. Some species can now only be found in the forest groves.

CPREEC, with each of the 53 groves they have restored, has taken great pains to study the area and to learn from the local people the exact species of trees that used to grow there so that they can be replanted, restoring the grove precisely to its original state. CPREEC provides the funding for the work and carries out the project, hiring local people to do the work. After three years of renovation and support by CPREEC, each grove is turned over to the village, and the local people undertake to preserve and maintain the forest grove which has traditionally always been theirs.

Preserving and restoring these beautiful and peaceful places of greenery and sacred trees, habitat for many kinds of birds and wildlife, is profoundly significant – first of all, for that grove and for the plants and animals who live within the grove and the people who live nearby. And, on another level, what could be more important than restoring and maintaining a small part of the planet earth? Each grove stands like a shining beacon, a reminder of the beauty, grace, and living nature of the earth and all her children.

© Forest Voices of India, 2020

 

Forest Voices of India
– conducts charitable fundraising services for environmental charities, especially in India.

How you can help

The CPR Environmental Education Centre
(CPREEC)
in Chennai, India

– Safeguards water

– Revives tribal arts

– Runs ecological study projects for students

– Restores forest groves – planting trees, improving water sources, and providing places of peace and joy for both wildlife and village people.

To help, click on Donate and choose CPR Environmental Education Centre.

Sending this link to a friend is another great way to help.

Bless you for caring!

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Forest Voices of India conducts charitable fundraising services that relate to promoting awareness of tree and environmental conservation and promoting research, education and other activities relating to the environment.